The Highly Exciting and Romantic Life of a Shaman in Training
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Article ID: 14270
Age Group: Adult
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Posted: November 21st. 2010
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Okay, so the title of this essay is wholly sarcastic. If you are looking for romance, intrigue, or mysterious and shocking revelations, you're at the wrong place. A snapshot from this evening:
Feeling overwhelmed at a to-do list that feels impossible to keep up with (much less ever complete) , tired from the workday and having just finished feeding the children and breaking up various squabbles, I glance around furtively and sneak to my bedroom.
The kids are all occupied, for the moment. No one is fighting, no one needs my help, no one is creating disaster.... and I've been parenting long enough to know that this is the magic moment: take it and run, fast, because it will probably be gone soon.
Quietly going into my bedroom, I feel the tight-chested sensation of anxiety asking permission to take over. Permission is not given, but it remains insistent. I reach into a little drawer and draw out a quartz crystal, one of the ones that tingle in my hands, letting me know that we are a good energy match. Holding it, I shut my eyes and, within seconds, am in the private place that is mine alone. Touching my hand along the rough rock wall, I go down the familiar hallway and enter into the wide welcoming room.
My spirit animals are there, as always. I greet the little owl and invite her onto my right shoulder. The dragonfly lands on my left shoulder, and I stand there a moment, enjoying their company, thankful for their strengthening presence. I stand and feel peace beginning to envelop me.
The crystal (back in the tangible physical world) begins to cause so much commotion in my hand that I'm almost pulled right out of the inner place. I adjust, taking in this information (assuming that perhaps it is the crystal helping with the anxiety? Dunno) , and then am able to go back in and concentrate fully on what is going on in my place.
The owl, instead of sitting quietly next to me, as is her usual custom, reaches her beak over and starts messing with my ear. It tickles, but there is also a strong sense of purpose involved---she's not being playfully affectionate, but is removing something that needs taken out. I develop a strong curiosity to find out what she is doing. What is in my ear? It think it has something to do with...
"MOM! Mom? Mo-ooom! Hey, Mom! MOM!!!"
I set the crystal down. With a deep breath (frustration-quickly-turning-into-acceptance) , I rise from the bed.
"I did my homework, Mom--the whole thing for the whole week! I did it early. Look at it. Neat, huh?"
"Mom... Hey, Mom, I'm in the bathroom and I need help. Can you come in here?"
"Mom, I just wrote a story. You've got to see this. Read it aloud, cuz you're going to love it!"
"Hey, Mom, are we out of apples all ready? How come there aren't any? Can you go to the store soon?"
When I get back from the land of mothering, I might even find out what the owl was pulling out of my ear. Until then, this is the training. This has always been the training, long before I ever knew I was being trained. The Universe is good like that.
As much as I crave a monastery or a quiet garden (or just plain HELP with running a wiggly active home) , there is no such thing as growth without things that make one grow. The facts are plain. I am single mothering a pile of young children. This was the price of my freedom from the abusive minister who I spent years calling my husband, and it is a price I'd gladly pay again and again. Winning that freedom was not easy. Living in the freedom is no less difficult.
If it was easy, I would probably feel very accomplished and even, perhaps, satisfied, my curiosity to grow sated by the feeling that I've arrived, my interest in spiritual growth dulled by the feelings of fullness that come from satiation. I remember a dear relative and firm Christian fundamentalist, in trying to convince me that his religion was the one I should join, happily telling me how the Christian God had transformed his life and had really changed him---how the old things he used to struggle with, his temper and his anger, were just gone since he decided to follow the Lord. This was said on a golf course, of course, where the man lived, good money paying for a comfortable retirement life, steaks for dinner, games of pleasure all day. Was it really his religion that changed him, or was it the fact that he had purposely chosen a lifestyle that provided very few challenges?
Of course, he then informed me, quite matter-of-factly, that it was too bad I'd be going to Hell (my snickering mind noting that his walk with the Lord apparently hadn't had much effect on his levels of compassion or love) .
It's easy to feel that we've made amazing inner progress when nothing challenges us or calls us to go deeper. The truth, however, would simply be that we are in an environment that allowed us to hide from the things that reveal areas needing growth (the accomplishments I boasted in would merely be surface level paint, hiding all sorts of ugly things underneath) .
Growth-inducing things are often mistaken as annoyances, hindrances, and problems. It is tricky to recognize them for what they are, even more so because they are individualized...and they change and morph with time. I am quite certain that we each have, woven into our lives, the very things we need to help craft us into the beautiful person we are (including maturation in the Shamanic realms, Pagan or Wiccan leanings, or whatever purpose or calling our life has) . Accepting them, facing them head-on, and learning from them is never a waste of energy.
It is sometimes called living in the Sacred Now, this practice of acknowledging the sacred value of each moment. Certainly, I am aware that growth in my path is something that can and does happen through many avenues: books, teachers, masters, covens, groups, internet articles, tarot, ritual and many things like those...but it is in the moment-by-moment application of the lessons learned that I truly find the kind of growth that goes deep.
I raged against the idea that there was anything good to be found in my abusive marriage, for example, that hideous thing that had ripped and shredded me into a million little pieces, until I sat, emotions to one side, and examined the kind of woman I'd learned to become in the midst of that extreme challenge. What I'd been required to learn, to draw from myself, in order to see the abuse for what it was and then to make the choice to leave that man, was powerful---things I could have learned in other venues, but probably not nearly as deep, not nearly as etched into my core. In fact, it was the process of
From the vantage point of Victim, my abuser stripped away all of me, sucking down my essence, leaving me an empty shell of skin, floating on the wind. I was robbed. But from the vantage point of Choice Maker, I discovered that it was through that marriage that I learned that it is okay to stand up for myself, that, despite my upbringing, it turns out that being a woman does not mean being without power or voice, or that blindly following religious dictates ("wives, submit!") is never a wise idea.
If it wasn't for my marriage, chances are high that I would have stayed in the halls of Christian fundamentalism for years to come, if not the rest of my life. It's not ego-flattering to admit it, but I'm fairly certain that if it were not for the absolute foundation-rocking earthquake of being in an abusive marriage (within a paradigm that says, "the husband is in charge of the wife and if you question that, your very salvation is at stake") , I probably would have never been challenged to search out the precepts of what I'd always thought was The Only Way.
Through the laboring questions and no-stones-unturned discoveries that came out of that experience, a whole flood of other questions were triggered, a ripened womb determinedly pushing out its offering, each contraction bigger than the one before, waves that no amount of intellectual or social discomfort would stop. Yes, I asked the first question on purpose, but after that one, a chain reaction began that seemed to take on a life of it's own. It was on the river of that bloody birth-water that I built my life raft and floated my way out to freedom, freedom from my marriage as well as the theological trappings that had kept me there.
My abusive marriage is not something I want to do again, nor is it something I would choose for anyone, but I refuse to see it from Victim vantage point anymore. I am thankful for a horror that shook me hard enough to cause my eyes to open, and helped set my feet on a path that fits who I am and what I am designed to be.
Now in an intensive Shamanic Training path, I am working with a small group of others and a Shaman who truly embodies the art of living in the Sacred Now, his kindness, gentleness and humility in every day life often teaching us much more than the classes we attend. No stranger to marketing, I suppose I could have spent this essay waxing on about the highly exciting and romantic nature of exploring Shamanism in an intense experiential way, but, like I said, I'd be lying. The truth is, yes, I'm learning. I'm learning a lot (and the classes themselves are intense and exciting, that much is true) . But the real learning, the stuff that goes in deep, is all within the rhythmic turning wheel of life---the hollers of a five year old, the late-night heartfelt discussions with a twelve year old, the demands of the workplace, the floor that needs sweeping and the dog that is pawing at the door to be let out.
I rise from the meditative journey in my private room because this life swirling around me is the real meditative journey, the one that calls me to reach just a little deeper, give just a little more, go beyond what I thought I could in order to embody Love just a little bit more than before in this planetary classroom. This is the way of those who seek to walk the path of Healer, Lover, and Bringer of Light. Nothing is easy here, but, then again, nothing worth doing ever is.
P.S. In reflecting on this, I smile, realizing that the crystal or the owl or just the brief minute spent in my room (or my "inner room") did help me work through that creeping sense of anxiety. The tight-chested feeling was gone and did not come back.
"Thank you for that. It was kind and very helpful… Say, speaking of helpful, when I get done with these dishes, will you show me what was in my ear?"
Copyright: Copyright 2010 BecomingShaman
Location: Seattle, Washington
Bio: Becomingshaman, a woman raised in Christian fundamentalism, was drawn to magic, fairies and earth-based worship from a very early age. With hellfire and damnation regularly preached as the fate of all who did not obey "The Only Way, " it seemed that the only viable direction for a person with spiritual inclinations was within the approved halls of Christian Fundamentalism...so that's exactly where she stayed. It would not be until many years later, including a painful journey through an abusive marriage to a Christian pastor, that becomingshaman intentionally, albeit with shaking limbs, entered the path of shamanic training and discovered, to her amazement and delight, that it was a perfect fit.
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